Questions and Answers

What type of accommodation is being developed?

The accommodation offered to the young adults would be a single room (with ensuite facilities), shared meals, and communal areas.

We will work together with other charities to support the young adults to move on into a permanent accommodation.

The young adults, aged between 18-24 years old, are considered capable of living on their own and don’t qualify for local authority assistance.  But they struggle to access suitable accommodation for a variety of reasons including:

  • the housing crisis in London,
  • a shortage of suitable accommodation
  • a lack of support from friends and family, and wider networks
  • cannot afford deposits up front

The young adults will be carefully vetted before they are allowed to come to the house – see below.

Who will be responsible for managing the house?

The house will be managed by Shelter Community, a registered charity (1151910) established in 2013 by husband and wife, Stephan and Jeannine Wiedmer, who have experience of hosting young adults in need of emergency accommodation in London.

Stephan and Jeannine will live as residents in 62A with their two children Amy (12) and Lyn (10). In addition, up to two additional people living in 62 will support the running of the house once complete.

What kind of experience do Stephan and Jeannine Wiedmer have to manage this house successfully?

  • Stephan and Jeannine Wiedmer have been hosts with Nightstop for almost 5 years. They have never received any complaints from neighbours about the people staying with them.
  • Stephan and Jeannine Wiedmer worked as a volunteer for over ten years in the youth ministry of a local church. In this role they led and organised a winter camp every year for around 120 teenagers. He was also responsible for coaching young leaders.
  • Stephan Wiedmer taught for 5 years at an official state business school for 16-25-year olds (further education). He taught accounting, law, economics and business management to finance trainees and was coaching students with learning or personal problems.
  • Prior to that he was for over 2 years the Chief Financial Officer for a charity called WBZ in Switzerland. The charity provided accommodation for 70 and work for over 120 people with disabilities. The charity had at that time a turnover of over 18 Million Swiss Francs.
  • For four years Stephan Wiedmer was the treasurer and a trustee of the Swiss Charity Intermission providing homes for orphans, education and health care for around 2’000 children in India and Africa.
  • Stephan Wiedmer is currently managing the St Paul’s Money Advice Charity (Crosslight Hammersmith). He manages the charity and 40 volunteers by providing expert advice and guidance with their roles and ensuring consistency and accuracy of advice given to clients.
  • Jeanine is a qualified nurse and worked in different hospitals.

In summary, they are experienced, responsible leaders with plenty of practical experience dealing with young people and their issues and challenges.

How will each young adult qualify to stay at the house?

The beneficiaries of this project are young adults in need of affordable accommodation with a low support need and no access to public support.

Each young adult will be invited to stay at the house by Shelter Community following an initial referral by Nightstop (DePaul UK), a registered charity set-up almost 30 years ago in response to the growing number of young homeless people in London. Nightstop has placed young people all over UK in safe homes in the local community.

We or Nightstop will liaise with each young adult directly to perform a comprehensive background check and risk assessment. Only following the completion of a reference check of up to two or more references (e.g. youth worker, doctor, teacher etc) will the young adult be given a room to stay at the house.

If unsatisfactory references are received, or the risk assessment indicates the young person could pose a risk to themselves or someone else, they will not be given a place to stay. In these cases, Nightstop will seek to find alternative accommodation for the young person.

Why is this type of house needed?

The housing crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing London and there are many reasons young adults face homelessness such as affordability, adequate support network and lack of housing benefits. Finding suitable accommodation can be difficult and many young adults are forced into a disruptive cycle which can have a negative impact on their education, employment, health and well-being.

A safe and secure place which provides quality accommodation can help them to stay in education and training, as well as getting a job, enabling them to find more sustainable housing in the future.

Young adults can find themselves in need of a home for many reasons beyond their control.

  • Those who have come to the end of a tenancy agreement and find themselves between homes because they can’t find a suitable or affordable place to live.
  • A parent has found a new partner or a new baby is on the way and there is no space for them.
  • A breakdown in the relationship with a parent causing them to be forced out of the family home.
  • Those who for sexual orientation, the threat of forced marriage, or other differences find themselves under intolerable pressure. One girl was forced out by her mother simply because she wanted to carry on with her studies.
  • Those who are forced to find alternative living arrangements after a relative or guardian has passed away.

How long will each guest be likely to stay?

We expect that people stay for 1 month up to 2 years. However, the length of each individual stay will depend on their own circumstances and the time needed to find suitable long-term accommodation.

How many guests will you accommodate?

Once complete, the house will be able to accommodate up to eight young adults at a time which will equate to around 30-50 people in total per year.

What will the young people do during the day?

Those invited to stay at the Shelter Community house will be expected to go to work, to attend college or training, or to visit an agency supporting them with finding a long-term accommodation.

What if a guest engages in anti-social behaviour?

We have never experienced any serious problems with the young adults they supported and have not encountered any bad or anti-social behaviour either.

We will not tolerate any form of anti-social behaviour (rude or abusive comments, loud noise late at night, threats, vandalism, etc.) and will put in place a set of house rules (licence agreement) for guests to follow. We reserve the right to terminate the guest’s stay if rules are broken.

The house has only had a single permanent occupant for many years and in the last two years, it has been empty. This has made the area around it less safe.  Once the building is renovated and fully occupied, with lights and activity – we believe that that part of the Common and the cars parked around will become less vulnerable to criminal activity.

How will you manage complaints?

As a charity, Shelter Community has a policy which sets out the process so that every complaint by guests, employees, volunteers and neighbours will be investigated on a case by case basis.

Who is going to pay for the young adults to live there?

The house will be owned and managed by charities with the objective of supporting people in need of a safe and secure accommodation. Highway One Trust, which owns the property, will rent it on favourable rates to Shelter Community which will be raising money to support their cause.

The young adults will have a license agreement and the charge will be according to the local housing allowance. It is expected that the young adults will pay this via earned income or student maintenance loan, or in some cases through the housing element of Universal Credit whenever possible.

There will be some guests who are not able to cover the full cost or, in some cases, any of it and in these cases we will cover the costs through donations. There are a number of charities and trusts who support young people who need accommodation.

When will you start with the building work?

We don’t know yet but hope to start next year, but need to wait until planning is granted. We will share the building plans as soon as we know more.

Where can I find the planning application?

The planning application is published here under the reference number 00395/62-62A/P1

Further questions

The above are answers to questions we have received from residents and other interested people. If you have further questions, please do contact us (wiedmer@sclondon.org) and we will get back to you as soon as possible.